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Hagel: Window closing on Iran and diplomacy

The Associated Press

By By DONNA CASSATA

WASHINGTON (AP) — Chuck Hagel says the "window is closing" on Iran and the possibility of diplomacy if it continues to ignore international demands to end pursuit of a nuclear weapon.

President Barack Obama's nominee for defense secretary made the comments in a 112-page questionnaire for the Senate Armed Services Committee. The panel submitted the extensive questions to Hagel in advance of his confirmation hearing on Thursday.

Hagel said Iran needs to show that it is prepared to negotiate seriously. Iran insists that it is not seeking nuclear arms and its uranium enrichment program is for peaceful purposes.

Hagel said Iran should face "severe and growing consequences" if it continues to flout the international community.

The former Republican senator has faced criticism that he is not sufficiently pro-Israel and tough on Iran.